Thursday, September 15, 2011
YouTube has much more than just bad lip syncing and piano playing cats...
As a blogger, I'm not going to 'preach to the choir' with my post today. If you're reading this, then to you, I've already stated the obvious. What may not be so palpable, however, is exactly the extent to which social media tools have saturated our daily lives.
Who doesn't have an email address these days? Telling someone you don't have an email address is comparable to someone 30 years ago saying they didn't have a telephone number. Immediately you're labeled a troglodyte who's unattached to the very world where you live. Fair? Hey...I don't make the rules of acceptable social behavior. I have a hard enough time following them myself!
It's not just basic internet-based communications like email either. Facebook alone now has over 750 million active members. That's more people than live on five of the world's seven continents. So is Facebook a cyber-continent? Sorry Europe...that would move you to fourth now by population. Hope Facebook doesn't go your route and try to create their own collective currency, since...you know...that's working so well for you guys.
So as a Christian, where am I suppose to be in all of social media craze? Thou shall not Twitter didn't make the Big Ten back in the Book of Exodus...so that doesn't really help calibrate my moral compass on the issue. Jesus clearing up all those thou shalts and thou shalt nots by breaking it down to two basic directives(love God, love neighbor) doesn't really fit here either. Still, the Bible is the Living Word and can be applied to any and all aspects of my life. So...exactly where does social media fit in matters of faith?
Did Peter break open his KJV Bible and start preaching to the folks in Rome in the early church? Of course not. Peter spread the Goods News based on what he had personally been taught and seen in the ministry of Jesus by the spoken word. Letters were rare..and books were even more so in Peter's day. Unfortunately for Peter, hearsay was admissible in the court of Nero...
Did Martin Luther deliver The Ninety-Five Theses to the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany by certified mail? I don't think so. Something that important should pretty much be delivered in person... with a hammer and nail for accentuating purposes. Drives the point home plus you can beat back angry clerics as you make a quick exit.
So why are Christians so polarized about the issue of social media use? Isn't it just the latest advance in means of communicating with each other?
I live in the South, and the phrase keep it old timey is as cliche here as my peeps up North might hear freeze your ____ off ....well...you know... they do use a lot more colorful language than us. But what does keep it old timey mean? Aside from timey not even being an actual word, I think people get hung up on the traditional means of their day and become fixated on the old way being tried and true, therefore, it must be the right way...the only way.
I'm sure if the Apostles of the early church could have looked forward to the year 1454 and seen the Gutenberg press churning out numerous copies of the very words of Jesus, there would have been a great deal of anxiety on their parts. What if something were misquoted? Misrepresented? What if the Great Deceiver himself corrupted the printings?! But look at how the printing press has brought millions to know and accept the Good News.
The phenom known as social media is no different. Sure, there are many dangerous agents that look to spread evil verses good, but God knew this from the very beginning. Also, Jesus spoke specifically to the perils of tradition with the Pharisees in Mark chapter 7- Stop living in the past dudes...well that's a paraphrase...of course.
Now I don't believe neither time nor any innovation can replace the importance of sharing the Good News with someone face-to-face. Living an exemplary life, loving others and showing compassion will never go out of style, but let's not be too hasty as Christians to write off social media tools as an instrument of evil only. As a matter of fact, I personally know a husband and wife who just six years ago lived in Iran as Muslims but were searching for truth. Through social media sources like blogs and chat rooms they connected with Christians. Today, they are both born-again Believers who escaped the repression and now worship and learn freely among other Christians due in part to those very social media sources.
Did I mention they are also bloggers and my Facebook friends?